News and views on motorsports

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Imola Follow Up

According to this article Fernando Alonso experienced engine problems during the San Marino Grand Prix. To preserve his troubled motor, the Renault team decided to limit his practise laps and thus they didn't manage to get the setup correct. That he could he still manage to win speaks volumes about his abilities. It was also a good call by Renault to call him in when they did. Any longer and it really could have jeapordise his chances.

Despite a massive turn of speed for Ferrari, I still don't think race wins will always fall their way. Remember also that McLaren will have a bunch of new aero updates for Spain which promises even more speed. This championship is can still quite open, though after 3 race victories it looks bloody good for Alonso. Don't forget about Renault. They are 4 out of 4 so far and are definitely looking good for constructor's glory. Although, something must be done about Signor Fisichella's machinery. I still think he's can do a lot better than this and he will.

Whilst Alex Wurz drove a very conservative race, I can't help but feel that had Montoya been in his place, he, like Raikkonen would be way out in front. Or at least battling it out against Schumi and Alonso. I'm sure many miss his f*** you attitude when it comes to battle. Especially when Schumi is involved.

Now I'm not entirely sure about the sporting regulations concerning pitlane activities but I think Ralf's penalty is a bit unfair. Unlike the situation in sportscars, Formula 1 does not have a steward who deems when a car should be released. As long as I can remember, cars are released as soon as its done. I've seen some terrible antics in the past but none of them have been penalised at all. A similar argument was made by Tsutomu Tomita when called to comment. Safety really is in the eye of the beholder and the regulations are very vague. How does one define safety in this case?

The best situation is to have a steward who calls when the car should be released. But one can argue that some stewards are more biased than others. I mean, German stewards are infamous for being bias towards a certain German world champion for example. In which case, he could possibly delay the release of Messrs Alonso or Raikkonen if it came down to it. Yeah, I know they're meant to be impartial, the stewards. But I've seen some very dodgy situations in the past that makes me doubt.

Talking about pit incidents, this reminds me of an amusing incident in the 1986 Le Mans 24 Hours. Hans Stuck in the No. 1 Rothmans Porsche was waiting to leave the pits after a pitstop. The steward in charge of the Porsche pits was a little cautious and delayed his release. The works Porsche team were involved in a tremendous battle with the Joest Porsche team at that time and the delay was costing the works car. Derek Bell, Stuck's partner decided, enough was enough, and proceeded to pick up his seat and throw it at the steward. The startled steward moved out of the way and off went Stuck.

Derek Bell apologized to the steward eventually. In an interview he said that he was afraid that Hans Stuck's foot would slip off the Porsche clutch and he'd run over the steward. Hence the flying seat.

Anyway, back to Formula 1 2005. Whilst Renault can cite engine problems and McLaren broke some drive shafts, BAR, Toyota and especially Williams have very little excuse. Yes, BAR improved tremendously but I don't think they've got the speed ultimately. But certainly they can smile after defeating their arch rivals Toyota. Toyota have definitely a lot of work to do to keep up their nice constructor standing.

Williams were more akin to Saubers than a works backed squad. Mario Thiessen and the bigwigs at BMW cannot be entirely pleased about all this. Williams mainly cite traffic problems during the race as their reason for the dismal show. But hey, that didn't stop Michael Schumacher did it? Unless they got strategy utterly wrong. Shameful I'd call it. Both of them finishing outside the points. I guess Mario Thiessen would better enjoy Rounds 3 and 4 of the World Touring Car Championship this weekend rather more than being in a Formula 1 race with results like these.

Jacques Villeneuve got a good result finally for Sauber. I wonder how this affects his relationship with Peter Sauber and the crew. For the better I suspect. But Jacques should really just chill out rather than making statements like this. Jacques can be quite combative at times, when really I think he doesn't need to. It just rustles up the press and the critics (and bad bloggers of course ;) ) and stresses himself out some more.

Qualifying is yet again a thorny issue. Many teams, fans, television stations and Bernie himself loathe it. This Pitpass article is quite vehement about the issue. But one guy who doesn't want it changed is Flavio Briatore. He claims it would give other teams an unfair advantage. You what? Oh well. Me personally, I kinda of like the fact that you get to see cars on empty tanks and in race loads. But largely I'm kinda neutral about it, especially compared to the format last year.

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